back to article It must be the end of the world... El Reg man thanks commentards

As the year draws to a close, I'd like to take the time out to thank companies and individuals that have made my life as a writer, a systems administrator, and business owner easier in 2012. Readers of The Register - myself among them - are notorious for their endless cynicism and love of a right good digital kicking, but some …


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  1. John G Imrie

    I have a question or two

    You seam to be moving further from windows and more towards Linux/Android. Is the true for yoru clients as well and will 2013 be the year of the Linux desk top or just the year of the Linux hand set?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: I have a question or two

      @John G Imrie; interesting question. Mind if I take a bit of a roundabout approach to this?

      There are really three answers to this that cover the various use cases in which I see Linux deployed; each with their own rationale.

      1) Linux belongs on mobiles only. There are some customers with certain use cases which cannot (or do not desire to) move away from Windows on their desktop/notebook. These individuals require or desire fat clients, and Apple and/or Linux simply will not do for them. In general, they use Android handsets, however. Almost all of them perform basic tasks (e-mail, browsing, etc.) from their Android devices.

      2) "Windows in a Windows." I see a lot of interest in "working from home" or "working from anywhere." This leads to "living in an RDP Window." In these cases, the endpoints are almost always Apple, but a notable number of them are Android or Mint. Windows is increasingly legacy for these people as they start to get "an app for that" to handle most things locally. Bonus points if the app syncs the data to their Windows work desktop/VM on the fly.

      3) People who use Linux and/or Apple exclusively. Apple certainly dominates this category, but I have had people ask me to put Mint installs in as live desktops. We even have some trial Android desktops out there. These are not the majority of users...but they are also not my idea. These are at the request of the customer; non-technical customers as well as technical ones, I should point out.

      For my own personal part, I maintain a Windows XP VM at home…only because I'm too lazy to nuke it an install Mint. That takes time, and time I don't have. I have an Alienware MX18 for video games and serving as my "desktop." I do nothing locally on it but play games and run various test VMs. It RDPs into my work Windows VM and my home Windows VM. My work Windows VM is a series of RDP sessions into various servers I am maintaining, a bunch of Firefox windows (usually populated with Webmin) and a whole lot of SSH sessions.

      If Gaben gets this "Steam for Linux" thing off the ground, then 5 years from now I can see myself not needing Windows at all on the endpoint. At least personally. I suspect most of my clients could do without as well, but that is their decision; they have to decide if paying the tithe is worth it. I refuse to preach to them, I show them the alternatives and give them CapEx and OpEx over the timeframes they request. They make the call.

      That said, I can't imagine life without Server 2012. I loathe the interface, but damn that is a beautiful operating system. Better than any Linux I've had the pleasure of working with for a number of use cases. I am also quite taken with System Center 2012 SP1 and Microsoft Dynamics.

      Microsoft has good technology. They have smart people. Their licenceing and pricing, however, are increasingly incompatible with my desire to see a demonstrable return on investment from each dollar I spent on IT. That's okay; there are alternatives. Life is good.

      Maybe 5 years from now Microsoft will change their tune and I'll be out in front cheerleading them as the bee's knees. This is tech; you never know what's coming next.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Is there a "use case"...

        For giving up that utterly ridiculous combination of words?

      2. John G Imrie

        Re: I have a question or two

        Thanks for taking the time for such a comprehensive answer.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: I have a question or two

          Always! :)

  2. Rampant Spaniel

    Thanks us for being cynical

    is this some kind of reverse psychology? :-)

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Thanks us for being cynical

      You are a dirty, vicious pack of soulless piranhas striping the self respect self esteem from every single person who touches this website even tangentially. But you follow the pig to find the truffles.

      I'd not have you lot be any other way. :) <3 commenttards.

      1. Oli 1

        Re: Thanks us for being cynical

        Aww stop!

        Ninite has saved me hours this year, and malware bytes of course!

        Oh and veeam, love it!

      2. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: Wrong assumption

        *sniff* no ones ever said anything so nice....

        I do love the fact that outside of IT topics you can have some amazing, enlightening and civilised discussions on normally touchy subjects. Mention Apple vs Samsung or Nosql and it all goes to ratshit of course. We can go thermonuclear over optical mouse dpi but have a sane discussion about gun control or freedom of speech. God knows why but long may it continue.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thanks us for being cynical

        "But you follow the pig to find the truffles."

        So true… hadn't seen it put that way before.

    2. Androgynous Crackwhore

      Re: Thanks us for being cynical

      Our beloved commentards certainly do not hesitate to make their voices heard. Whether it be insightful analysis, a helpful email to the author or stinging criticism, I learn a lot from our readers. A lot of interesting tools and services I ultimately adopt I heard about in the forums first. So to the our readers, thank you.

      Jesus! Someone's hit the Christmas spirits hard and heavy this year. Either that or there's some malignant purpose lurking behind this revolting display of sycophantic drivel... planning to charge a subscription next year? I certainly hope not! Not when the best you can do is churn out crap like this:

      stepped up to the plate

      What the hell is that? Some obscure colloquial idiom hidden in parochial dialect? Call your self a journalist? Learn to speak English man - say what you mean FFS! Go and have a long hard look at that "revolting display of sycophantic drivel" and consider is comprehensively reciprocated by this snivelling commentard.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Thanks us for being cynical

        Oh, but I do speak English. The Queen's most right and proper dialect: Canadian English. Not that cave scratching and baby wailing that you lot grunt at eachother.

        <<Ook Ook Ook>>

        That better? Easier to understand? Merry OookMas! :)

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          Hmm, after 100's of years of fighting the French you go and setup shop with them? In somewhere even colder than North Yorkshire? What's that aboot?

          Mind you, at least you have healthcare and education (and most importantly, bacon), so I should keep quiet!

        2. Androgynous Crackwhore

          Re: Thanks us for being cynical

          Nope. Sorry Trev. Didn't get a single word of that.

          Anyway, must dash old chap. Need to find myself a bird for Christmas.

          Now... where did I leave my club?...

          Ook Ook Ook...

  3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    ARG MetaPhoria, AAA Heavenly Desire Project for Applied Intelligent Thought/Viable ImaginaNation

    Methinks the El Reg Commentards CV Bank would be a Most Valuable MetaDataBase for Future HyperRadioProActive Assets. Core Source Awe with Virtual Ores ....... which are as Sticky Sweet Passions in True Live Operational Virtual Environments.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: ARG MetaPhoria, AAA Heavenly Desire Project for Applied Intelligent Thought/Viable ImaginaNation

      It's amfM! Yay! And Happy Martian Big Data Holidays to you too, sir.

      1. soaklord
        Paris Hilton

        Re: ARG MetaPhoria, AAA Heavenly Desire Project for Applied Intelligent Thought/Viable ImaginaNation

        Where is the article on AMFM1? Seriously, for as long as he's been around the Reg, he deserves at least one piece. Or was I on holiday the day that one was written?

    2. nuked

      Re: ARG MetaPhoria, AAA Heavenly Desire Project for Applied Intelligent Thought/Viable ImaginaNation

      2012 Man of the Year:

      aManFromMars 1

      Take a bow son. Cheers.

  4. Anonymous IV
    Thumb Down

    Error: no address supplied...

    ... to receive the mountains of goodies that grateful firms will doubtless shower upon the author, following favourable mention in El Reg...

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Error: no address supplied...

      "Firms?" There are "firms" behind open source projects now? Or maybe Sascha at Ninite - whom, last I recall I bought him a beer out of gratitude for his work - will suddenly develop eleventy squillion dollars and shower me with riches.

      Supermicro, VMware, Intel and the like certainly have my address already; they've sent me demo gear (or NFR licences) so that I can test their products. So do other companies. News flash: I review stuff for a living. Sending me stuff to review doesn't guarantee that you'll get a nice review; only building stuff that's not crap guarantees that.

      Maybe you should check out my rather love/hate relationship with Microsoft. I'm sure their PR guys would love to string me up by my nether regions – gods know there's no love lost between the licensing department at The Beast and myself – yet I will cheerfully turn around and sing the praises of Server 2012 or System Center 2012 SP1 because those products are worthy of praise.

      I wrote a nice piece on Apple in the Enterprise a while back. Do you suspect that I am secretly swimming in fruity goodness? Hint: the poky whoresons won't even return my phone calls, and I am still hunting for a reasonably priced used iOS6-capable device to do a review for some of the startups that have iOS-only apps they want me to look at.

      Some times I get to keep the demo gear that is sent to me. I won't hide that. Some times I get sent on a junket by a vendor, or get a nice tour of the campus and a swank backpack. (Thanks Supermicro!) I don't hide that either. It doesn't change anything. It doesn't make me say nice things about your product if they are undeserved. What it does do is make me hate you less, trust you more and be a hell of a lot more willing to sell your stuff to my clients.

      So let's be perfectly clear here: if you give me Free Stuff That I Can Keep as part of my reviews then one of three things will happen to that equipment.

      1) If there is a use for it, I will incorporate it into my test lab. This means I can then review even more things and that is good for readers. Having a bitching test lab means less "I got a new iPad" reviews and more "let's see how this new enterprise filer stacks up and handles 10Gbit from multiple hosts." You know, reviews we actually care about.

      Why would a vendor just give away hardware or software licences? Because if it is in my testlab for the next three years, I will talk about it over the course of those next three years. It'/s sort of inevitable; if I am reviewing Widget A and using Widget B to do it, widget B is mentioned in the methodology." So vendors without an internal demo program who are taking a unit out of production that they can then not resell get an upfront review for their expense and some "long tail" mentions.

      I also periodically loan out equipment from my lab to other bloggers if they have a definable need and a project in mind, so they may get some wider exposure that way too. Not bad marketing ROI for the company, but I'm still not going to call that marketer's widget awesome if it's a piece of crap.

      2) I might pass it along to another blogger so they can review it/incorporate it into their testlab. If the company in question is just handing out gear that reviewers can hang on to, and I legitimately don't think that I can find a long term use for it as a test item which will bring some sort of benefit to my readers, then I will give the company in question a shortlist of other bloggers I know who should get the widget instead. I'll still do a review, but I'll forward it on. Good for the marketing bloke – he still gets some long tail investment somewhere for that piece of demo equipment he can no longer resell as new – and good for everyone's readers as more reviews bring more perspectives to the table.

      3) If I can't find a use for it and I can't find a fellow blogger that needs it, I help the company taking that demo equipment off the line for review purposes find a worthy charity that can receive the equipment after I have done the review. That way the company sees a tax credit for the equipment they took off the line, and I can still review the widget.

      That said, the overwhelming majority of equipment that passes my way is on a time limited demo. I often request the equipment for a month's use because I don't want to open a box, look at it and say "well that's nice." I torment the stuff, often giving it a short stint in production to see how it holds up.

      Being nice to me won't change what I write about your product. Being a customer or supplier of my company won't change what I write about your product. They will influence whether or not I buy your product, or whether or not I recommend them to my clients.

      A review on The Register, however, is a review of that product in isolation. I can not – I will not – allow any other considerations to come into play.

      Calling me a shill because I thank people for being awesome? That says a lot more about your own personal hangups and how you approach the world than me. I will let my reviews speak for themselves. There are a bunch hitting in the next month. You decide.

      Ultimately, there is no need for me to be biased. It serves zero purpose. There are so many companies out there that I can piss off a new one every week and they'll still fall all over themselves to get demo gear into my hands. You don't comprehend the sheer volume of press releases that land in my inbox, or the desperation of PR guys.

      Besides, if I allow myself to lose my objectivity, I lose my credibility with my readers. If I lose my credibility with my readers, then I can't write for The Register anymore. If I can't write for The Register anymore, than I don't get to play with new toys.

      Thus the only way I get to keep the flow of cool toys to play with is to be completely honest and as objective as I possibly can.

      In any case, I hope you have a great holiday season. Cheers.

      1. 404

        ACIV got you

        Anyone who has ever been to a COMDEX type convention knows freetech/samples are par for the course - I still receive promotional items and equipment from different companies I visited at those functions. I don't write reviews, but I will be the first to get loud if I or my clients get screwed around by vendors, and I influence purchasing decisions for many SMBs.

        I am a very small fish in a very large ocean, yet I don't see an issue with promotional gear. Even I get 'free stuff', it's a part of doing business, and if it's good, I'll sing the praises myself to help sell the tech. If ACIV works in IT, they should already know this, thus:

        Trevor got trolled... lol

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: ACIV got you

          Everyone in tech gets free samples, sure. I get free samples as a sysadmin all the time! People get all angsty when journalists get free samples/junkets/etc, however, as journalists are supposed to be objective. That's a hard line to walk in today's world. Nobody is willing to pay for a paper/tech blog/etc, so that means advertising. (OMG, BIAS! ADVERTISERS ARE TELLING YOU WHAT TO WRITE!)

          Journalists make a fifth of a bent copper per fortnight, so there's no "buying our own review gear" in most circumstances. The new organisation itself rarely has the resources to come up with review gear - seeing as it's trying to up that fifth of a bent copper to 0.21 of a bent copper per journo - so that's out too.

          That means accepting demos, samples, NFRs and whatever else possible if we want to review it. That makes people – especially Americans, who have a completely different take on how journalism should work than pretty much the entire rest of the world – really, really angsty. So it's not ACIV alone who raises this concern; every single tech journalist I've spoken to at every single publication gets crap about being a biased shill pretty much every day.

          There's no way I will convince the hard core douchecanoes. Not going to happen. But by responding to "cuntweasel number 01865327.1" I can in turn speak to other commenters who may have similar – potentially legitimate – concerns. Ones that are hopefully more rational and capable of putting on pants in the morning.

          Oddly enough, it works; I will often get an e-mail from a reader where we then talk about such things at length. I've changed my approaches to some things as a result of fantastic insights from readers. The writer does not know all and thus I seek to grow and evolve by taking advantage of the experience and knowledge of our readers.

          Of course, that has to be balanced against the fact that many readers are either a) batshit crazy or b) so full of themselves – and generally wrong about things – that they are nothing but unreliable and really loud. So simply doing whatever any commenter tells you is a bad plan too.

          Still, amidst the noise there is signal. It is generally these longer responses that go into detail which draw out the signal and allow me to learn, evolve and grow.

          Happy holidays, sir. Cheers.

      2. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: Error: no address supplied...

        My best friend is an auto journo. One particular car manufacturer took him away, first class, for a weekend of rally car driving, drinking and general spoiling. He came back with more loot than Ronnie Biggs. He then wrote a piece of the new model they were releasing which he had a chance to drive. Now the amusing part is a family member of mine had the same make and model (just prior to the redesign) so I was familiar with his thoughts on the make (not complimentary) and on the model in general (I believe one of his comments related to the fact you would need a hefty amount of cash to part ex it for a lada).

        Now his review didn't actually lie, it didn't really contravene anything he had said previously, but it sure as hell stayed away from any areas of concern. he put a particular light on it. Obviously I suggested he was bought an sold for a fleece jacket and a few free drinks and his comments in reply were basically that he didn't lie but he got to understand the ethos of the company a lot better and where they were going, so they got the benefit of the doubt.

        When I read a review I know it is coming from a human being and you can tell from the tone weighted against how revolutionary the product is, as to how biased the review is. They're humans, so are you, just use your common sense as to how much weight to give it based on the reviewers history.

        As mentioned journos don't get paid a fortune so they can't be expected to review expensive stuff all the way through my degrees I got free software and in some instances even some hardware. I worked in as much as I got experience in that companies products that I wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise but looking back I found myself using other tools most of the time. When I ended up using my degrees for work I found myself using ms access (which I actually paid for) over oracle (which I had for free) because it was already there but primarily suited the task far better. I wouldn't consider a reviewer biased just because they got free stuff, nor would i rely on a single review. You look at several and look for themes, both between reviews of the same product and each reviewers previous reviews.

  5. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    IT Angle

    What's more to the point is...

    Will we get our snowy banner this year?

    You're leaving it prey late El Reg, and I remember in the not too distant past when there was great weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth at a similar inexplicable failure.


    There was also much dischuffedness

    1. Androgynous Crackwhore

      Re: What's more to the point is...

      Will we get our snowy banner this year?

      I fear not.

      Last I heard, the Google Corporation Inc had "invented" and "patented" that sort of topical/seasonal alteration to a website's livery. So all such frivolity is now effectively illegal. Unless you want to take your chances against the amassed legal might of Google Inc.

      So if you want to Christmas up the masthead on your website, you just have to ask yourself. "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do you, punk?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: What's more to the point is...

        >Last I heard, the Google Corporation Inc had "invented" and "patented" that sort of topical/seasonal alteration to a website's livery

        Nah, I remember Christmas Lemmings back in the Amiga days... and I'm sure it wasn't the first. Psygnosis became SCE and was broken up this year, so you're in the clear.

        Have just wasted 5 minutes hunting down the Lemmings 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' MIDI file, to find that it just don't sound right on a wavetable synth... come back FM!

  6. Tom Maddox Silver badge

    Thanks, Trevor!

    Despite having a similar title, you work in a very different world with very different tools, and I'm always enlightened to hear about what other options are out there. Keep the articles coming!

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Thanks, Trevor!

      Some day you need to tell me about the tools you use and some of the stories you have. Always like to try new things and learn from the experiences of others!

  7. Andus McCoatover

    Snowy banner?

    Doubt it. It's Friday evening, and I think El. Reg staff have all buggered off. Not even a sprig of mistletoe, which IIRC is a parasite, (somewhat similar to a vulture?).

    Thanks, El Reg. for a great years' reading. Look forward to continuing the fun next yext year. Seasons greetings to all your staff of accomplished writers.

    (Just looked outside, and I think I'll get my own "snowy banner" shortly)

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Snowy banner?

      "El. Reg staff have all buggered off"

      We are out of the door and up and away. We'll be keeping an eye on proceedings over the week, but apologies in advance if there's a comment moderation queue backlog.

      As for the top banner: whoops! I can only assume the snowfall this season has been so poor our art department has not been moved to set it up.

      Anyhow, merry Christmas everyone. Thanks so much for the comments + love.


      1. Anonymous Coward

        You lot! Get Back To Work!

        One of the things I hate about Christmas: No Daily Reg Dose!

        Oh well, seeing as how I'm on holiday every day now, I suppose I can't begrudge a few days of Christmas cheer. But I'd better not think too hard about that...

  8. James Gibbons
    Thumb Up

    Some comments from a small network manager (spare time)

    Thanks for all the great advice Trevor.

    I help manage the IT equipment at our small company (about 25 people) and am currently doing some upgrades. We build industrial control systems but our IT infrastructure is not as modern as it should be. Here are some items I am using:

    Our Server 2003 running on a Supermicro MB and Pentium 4 is getting upgraded to Server 2008R2 running on a Mac Mini and VMware Fusion. I would have gone with Server 2012 Essentials but MAS 90 (yuck, not my choice) doesn't officially support it.

    Our Linux file server has been running for about the same amount of time (old Fedora system) and has suffered several hard drive failures. I'm upgrading this to a QNAP TS-669L running the new WD Red 3TB drives in a RAID 6 configuration.

    I use a Win XP system running Retrospect (Windows multi-server version) with several 2TB drives to backup all our computers. This is a disk-to-disk backup. A LTO tape drive is used every so often to move the backups to tape for offsite storage. I wish this was better but no one has time to do it right. We have too much data to pump it to a cloud solution. I just wish all the email clients out there were like Opera and would use a group of small files instead of one great big file of all the emails. This would reduce our backup storage greatly.

    I've deployed several other QNAPs and have found their RTRR sync features very nice to copy file shares to/from our branch office. Our main office has a Netgear ProSafe SRX5308 firewall and it provides VLAN separation between our internal office and service networks with near wire speed packet filtering. This high end router is really needed to match our Comcast 50 Mbps service, lower end routers would not give full speed filtering. I can also limit the branch office QNAP to only respond to our fixed IP address so hackers won't be trying to hack it all the time. I don't VPN our branch office because many services don't run reliably on VPN and I don't have time to handhold users much.

    Our web page and email are provided offsite by a hosting ISP to keep this traffic away from our company firewall and reduce my maintenance headaches. I would highly recommend the Mac OSX program, Sandvox, to anyone wanting to maintain a simple HTML5 business or personal web site. While we use a CentOS VM at the ISP with Wordpress for our company site, I wish I had seen Sandvox sooner. No one wants to keep the Wordpress site up-to-date so there it sits just like over a year ago.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Some comments from a small network manager (spare time)

      Hey James Gibbons! Thanks for the details on your network; it sounds exciting! Can I ask a couple of questions? First: are you using the Mac Mini running Fusion to provide your production virtualisation environment. Can I ask what you are using to do backups for the virtualised instance?

      I see that you mention retrospect, but retrospect does not (if I am recalling correctly) do bare-metal images. Are you using the Windows-native backup to do images? If so, have you tested a restore? Those Windows backups are VHDs and you with wither have to boot off of a 2008 R2 CD and perform a restore that way, or V2V. I've never gotten V2V from a backed up Windows Server image to work quite right, so I'm curious as to your results.

      I see you mention Sandvox - the lack of fucks given regarding updates is sadly common in the SMB world - and wonder if you have given synology a poke. While I run my suite of personal websites as wordpress on a CentOS VM, Synology NASes contain an "app store" that seems quite capable of deploying a web server and wordpress install. I was leery at first, but the package updates seem to be reasonably frequent so I doubt that the security is world-endingly terrible.

      In theory, a Synology should be able to replicate to a Qnap – they are both rsync-based replication – and would give you an "appliance"-based webserver build in to your next storage expansion. All top-of-mind stuff here, of course. SMB networks are quirky and unique; no two are ever alike and neither are the requirements or weird internal corporate politics that drive them.

      I hope to hear more about your network in the future, it sounds like the kind of interesting setups that a lot of my smaller clients have when I first take them on. Sometimes it can take a decade to rationalise. SMB refresh cycles can be…long.

      1. James Gibbons

        Re: Some comments from a small network manager (spare time)

        Very sorry for the long delay getting back. I've mostly got everything deployed currently.

        Yes, I'm crazy enough to use the Mac Mini for virtualisation. I wanted something simple and easy to maintain and that had a low power footprint. I'm not running any heavy applications or large data stores with these servers, otherwise I might do it different. I plan to shut down the VMs and periodically copy the images to the QNAP. Retrospect does nightly backups through a client on the VMs. We have a Time Machine for the Mini itself and the VM directory is excluded from this backup.

        I've tested the Retrospect bare metal restore and it appears to work well, but haven't done a complete test on 2008R2 yet. I'm mostly worried about the data stores being backed up. Restoring the OS image will get me half way there and the nightly Retrospect data backup gets the rest. The nice thing is being able to move it to other hardware if the Mini breaks.

        I prefer to keep our web on a VM at the ISP. The less hackers we attract to our internal corporate IP address the better. I'm not opposed to running our own web server, and we do have a high security configured QNAP on a DMZ to provide support for customers and our field service for file transfers. We also use this DMZ to repair returned computers in case they have a virus that would like to spread on our normal network. The Netgear ProSafe firewall makes it very easy to set filters on what devices on our internal net can communicate with the QNAP on the DMZ.

  9. Khaptain Silver badge

    I just cant agree

    Trevor is one of those El Reg writers with whom I personally can seldom concur. As a consultant he is seldomly objective and usually full of himself.

    But I still continue to read his articles, go figure.

    Merry Christmas to all commentards and also to Trevor ... ...... ......

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: I just cant agree

      I really shouldn't allow myself to be baited by a troll, that's okay, Khaptain. I'm actually convinced you're a self-obsessed individual who believes so ardently in his training that nothing outside the very narrow domain of your own experience is ever to be considered as possible, necessary, desired or required by anyone. So threatened are you by people who talk about new ideas or edge use cases that you lash out at people with personal attacks for not reporting and supporting your views. At least you'll get the attention you crave if I respond.

      You don't have any understanding of my work as a consultant. I know the Register handles of the technically competent individuals I have worked with; you are not among them. This means that you either attempting to lay claim to "knowledge" of how I operate as a consultant through your concerted and purposeful misreading of my articles and comments, or you are in fact one of the non-technical individuals who has worked at some of the companies I support. Either case makes your claims of knowledge fraudulent.

      To put things clearly: when I work with a client, I present them the various possible options available given the resources on the table. I explain the benefits and the drawbacks of each. I then implement what the client wants. It's a difficult world to comprehend; I tailor solutions to my clients.

      I do not simply present them a pre-canned solution straight off a whitepaper – generally at 50x the budget they have available – and then run the meter up with additional charges after the fact. (Which seems to be what most of the VARs and consultants in fact do.) Quite the opposite; I'm the guy they come to after having rejected the offers of other consultants as impractically beyond their means. And what I build works.

      When I write about things on The Register, I write about edge cases and I do so purposefully. I do it to challenge mainstream thinking and to show people what's possible that isn't in the official guidance. There is zero interest to me as a writer – or for any of The Register's readers – in reading a summary of a whitepaper or a series of articles that say "praise be to the established vendors and their currently marketed solution stacks. You must marry this with this and that with that and question not the cost nor the bugs!"

      Here is a great resource if you want that.

      I should point out that I have installed - and do maintain - several COTS whitepapered setups. As a sysadmin I love them. They are dirt simple and I can run dozens - even hundreds - of them in my sleep. Hurray for shit that Just Works; I love it. They aren't, however, interesting or worth writing about. Zero fucks are given about taking well known and tested solutions off the shelf and then *gasp* having them work as advertised.

      Oh, but Happy Holidays to you, sir. I hope you earn a measure of happiness in the new year. Seems like you could use some. Cheers.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: I just cant agree

        I do not doubt your capacity nor your competence, I honestly believe that you do find solutions for your clients.

        What I do not adhere to though is your style of presentation, it is the opposite of modest.

        Each of us can blow our own trumpets about solutions that we have implemented that stray a little from the standard but we are simply doing our job.

        I really don't understand your arguements about whitepaper solutions, quite often they are all that the client wants or needs.

        By offering your client more "exotic" solutions you are actually putting the into a difficult situation because you then become the SPOF. If you are not available then the client would have difficulty in finding someone else that knows, understands and masters the solution. This in itself presents a large risk most notably for small companies.

        When I read your articles they sound as much as a sales pitch as anything else, as I have mentioned they do not sound objective. Try going back and reading some of your longer articles you will understand what I mean. This is objective critiscm not personal insult.

        Obviously you will only see what you want to see in your own words but try giving a copy of your articles, name removed, and listen to the feedback.

        By critising your own work you can only improve. No one cares how good Trevor is but everyone does enjoy reading interesting articles. If you remove the self glory from your writing it would come across much more professionally and would be become much more palatable.

        These are my personal thoughts and critisicms, if you prefer not to be critisized just say the word and I will remove all and any of my posts.

        Cheer up Trevor, its only El Reg.

        Sorry for the spelling, I only have my Galaxy Note today and navigation on longer articles is a pain.

        1. 404

          Re: Khaptain

          Just curious:

          Shouldn't a tech writer write about what they know, rather than what they think they know?


          1. Khaptain Silver badge

            Re: Khaptain

            I am not too sure if I understand the question correctly.

            But yes I agree tech writers should write about what they know, usually Trevor does exactlly that but it the style in which it is done that I cannot agree with. As an example

            Example 1:

            I do not offer my clients the same standard white paper solutions that the other consultants offer. My solutions are tailored to the clients needs, I talk to my clients, this is how my company works. I show the clients that my solution is what they need.

            Example 2:

            One possible solution could entail discussing with the client their particular budget requirements and or conditions that might require the usage of non standard solutions. Where this is necassary solutions exist which although non standard would actually meet the clients needs without overburdening their budget. One such case would bas follows....

            Obviously I have exagerated the first example but it is typical of Trevors style, it is all about Trevor and Trevors company and Trevors solution and why Trevor is so much more clever than the other consultants. The second example, again exagerated, would provide the same information but from a neutral view point.

            If you run through Trevors longer articles you will understand what I mean. He obviously has a lot of knowledge and experience in his field but always presents it in a very self orientated manner. There is far too much usage of "I", "mine", "me" ..

            Good technical writing, in my personal opinion, should not include so much me, me, me. A little is OK but it should never go overboard.

            1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

              Re: Khaptain

              The thing is that Trevor is not just doing technical writing. If he were putting together white papers for prospective client or technical documentation, I would agree with your criticism, but he's writing blog-style articles for a publication renowned for its ironic or sarcastic tone, so an injection of personal perspective is absolutely called for. I don't personally find him to be a know-it-all; I get the impression that he's genuinely enthusiastic about the technology he uses and proud of the solutions he creates for his clients.

              YMMV, of course.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                @Tom Maddox

                To be fair, there are plenty of solutions I've built for clients I am not proud of whatsoever. Some of them are miserable, terrible kludges and they keep me awake at night. They are, however, the best that could be done with the resources at hand and I'd be willing to stand in front of a judge and defend that.

                Though there are quite a few I am very proud of. Orthogonal solutions to common problems that accomplish difficult tasks with far fewer resources than our industry generally believes to be possible. (You'd be positively floored to see what I can do with a Neatgear WNDR7200 V2.)

                Sadly, I don't get to write about those on The Register. The Register is very space constrained, and also topically constrained. The Sysadmin Blog is mine and mine alone, but the subtle hint has been to keep it short whenever possible – the goal is 600 words – and make it "bloggy" and personal. Something to keep the commenters riled up and talking.

                Features are things I have to pitch. They have to have a professional bent, preferably appealing to the CxO/department head crowd. Decision makers and purchasers. Everything else is a topic I am handed, not one I pick.

                So I don't get to write a 5000 word document on "how you turn a WNDR2700 V2 into a Samba 4 domain controller, file server, DHCP, DNS, IDS and Firewall unit with backups to the cloud and one-click restore to a spare unit." I product such documentation internally, but it doesn't make it out to the web for lack of publishing bandwidth.

                I've decided that in 2013 I will start publishing a lot more of that stuff on With luck, I'll be able to link to some of them from my sysadmin blogs. Turning into a kind of "extended technical resource" for my sysadmin blogs.

                There are things I am really proud of doing, but the length and technical detail required to really explore those topics just isn't something I am generally allowed to get into here. Of course, these are the trials and tribulations of the freelance writer; most readers grok this. It's just the odd douchecanoe that can't or won't.

                There is always some reader that demands with thundering self-importance (and usually quite a bit of jealousy) that you not only publish what they want you to publish, but that you write in the tone and style they prefer. For every Khaptain out there pounding his pud whilst looking into the mirror, there are a hundred people who tell me they love the personal style I use and feel that my "story telling style" keeps them engaged through what are sometimes difficult topics.

                Those who know me personally and have read this thread are absolutely floored by El Khapitanic's vitriol. I'm generally someone with no sense of self-esteem or much in the way of belief in my own self importance. I remember recently having an argument with Dale Vile at Freeform Dynamics wherein he tried to convince me I had become a person of influence in tech and I called bullshit.

                So if Khaptain – or others – find my tone or style to be self important (me, of all people! *sigh*) then I have all sorts of questions to ask them about their own lives. Yes, I care about my niche, my customers, my solutions, my problems. Why would I care about anyone else's unless paid to?

                This is why I argue with Dale. I could write a blog aimed at the middle of the bell curve and appeal to a wider audience. I choose not to. There are lots of folks out there who write blogs about "how to do things according to whitepaper." Why would I duplicate those efforts? Why would I simply parrot some party line?

                Instead, I write about my own experiences, solutions and problems. How I approach things, what I do and why…that could help someone. SMB sysadmins low on resources like myself. Even if only 1 other reader cares, that is helping that reader, and I feel like I've accomplished something.

                Everyone is part of an underserved niche at some point. I have been given a podium to talk about the issues that affect my underserved niche. The bits that matter aren't' the angry Fortress IT admins pounding the counter demanding I tell the world to be more like them.

                What matters are the e-mails I get from my peers; small business sysadmins short on everything who say "thank you; you helped me solve a problem/avoid a minefield/not waste time with a vendor who was going to jerk me around."

                And I've gone totally off on a tangent here. I think that's my brain telling me "input protein or I'll shut off, you twunt." Breakfast time…

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

                2. Khaptain Silver badge

                  Re: @x

                  Je suis toujours decu par les gens intelligents qui ne reconaisse plus leur propre ignorance.

                  Khaptain signing off.

            2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: Khaptain

              Me, me, me. Mine, mine, mine. Me, not you, me. Mine, me, Trevor, nobody else, me, me, me.

              You want a technical article, wait until the Server 2012 ebook is published. If you want a personal blog post read the articles labelled sysadmin blog.

              Once you've dug your head out from waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay up in your sphincter you might take your own advice and go read some of my articles. I think that you will find a great many "technical articles" which are either commissioned to be "about a given product" or which are features designed to look at things from an objective standpoint.

              Separate from this are the sysadmin blogs. Which are blogs. They are my personal take on things. Me, me, me, mine, mine, mine. My soapbox. Not yours. Get your own patch of the cloud, buster.

              There are a few – three, I think? – features in which I talk about my personal experiences with something. The overwhelming majority of features are technical and carefully are not written with Trevor at the center.

              But yes, Trevor Pott's sysadmin blog has Trevor at the middle of it.. Shocking. In case you don't know the history of El Reg, I was given a sysadmin blog not because they wanted me to write technical articles, but because I troll the living fuck out of people and it gets commenters all riled up.

              There are non-Trevor technical articles that I produce. So why don't you simply not read the blog ones and I think your neuroses can be held in check.


              Me, me, me, mine mine, me, I, me me.

            3. 404

              Re: Khaptain

              I would love and hate a cookie-cutter front to back business network installation. Love, because of the ease of installation and maintenance. This ease brings hate because anyone, everyone, and their mother would be doing them with anyone, everyone, and their mother half-ass maintaining them. Yeah, that person who installed Office on everybody's workstations is their ace in the hole. Half-trained, god help me, arrogant little bastards who are very convinced of their our superiority. Until it blows up and they have to call me.

              In the real world(tm), most businesses can't afford the ticket price of a whitepaper solution and have disparate equipment installed at various times, a patchwork that somehow works for them. I myself have clients with machines ranging from DOS, Windows 3-by-god-1, 8 year old XP workstations, SCO Linux, MacOS, Vista, Win7, etc because one machine, one program the company depends on, only runs on that OS. Or company is too cheap, too poor, too big of an ego, to upgrade to something more mainstream. It's just not realistic.

              If the author has done the work and is justifiably proud of his solution, be it elegant* or a work of duct tape art, why wouldn't he let you know he did it? It's a blog, right?


              * Long time ago my first major accomplishment was migrating an NT4.0 domain to Windows 2k Active Directory with Solaris dns servers for a small ISP. 1100 websites, 10k users -> took me five months but I did it all by myself and didn't lose a single client/user. Very proud, I am even still.

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          "What I do not adhere to though is your style of presentation, it is the opposite of modest."

          I write for The Register, foo. If you do "modest" you'll be eaten alive. It might shock you to know that my articles are generally read by others before posting. You see a "sales pitch" because that is what you want to see. It is the presentation of something different than you would do - or prefer to do - and thus to you it is attempting to "sell" that idea to others. Frankly, that's your hangup not mine.

          Similarly, when you make bullshit statements like this: "By offering your client more "exotic" solutions you are actually putting the into a difficult situation because you then become the SPOF. If you are not available then the client would have difficulty in finding someone else that knows, understands and masters the solution. This in itself presents a large risk most notably for small companies." you are quite simply lacking any understanding whatsoever of how I work.

          When I design my solutions, they are well documented. They adhere as closely as possible to a whitepaper install, and all deviations from the accepted standards are both carefully documented and the rational for the deviation provided. Resources for business continuity exist; from links to companies that provide the solutions I have installed (and relevant documentation) to contact information of other systems administrators that I work which who are familiar with my practices and can take over for me should I get hit by a bus.

          Once more you project your own ignorance as truth; hailing your assumptions as proven fact. I am entirely comfortable that my articles are presented exactly as I intended, and read by the majority of my readers as such. Given your deliberate misunderstanding – which seems deeply tied to your own sense of personal inadequacy – seems to cause you angst, I'm actually going to go with "this is a good thing."

          It means that I am accomplishing exactly the goals I set out to do: make Fortress IT professionals angsty and uncomfortable. Challenge established paradigms, cause people to question, debate and argue.

          It means I am biting the hand that feeds IT. Cheers.

  10. Tank boy

    I swear, I just read it for the articles...

    But I keep coming back for the comments. Thank you to my fellow commentards for making me a little less dumb over the years, and the entertainment.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Webmin and other interfaces

    Now there's a software package I haven't seen in a looong time. Interesting to know it's still around.

    I've slowly weened myself off it. Years ago I did use it, but not lately. At my current workplace I've inherited responsibility for a number of Linux based machines. Among them:

    ­- A router box running Untangle (based on Debian Lenny)

    - A mail server running Zentyal (Ubuntu based)

    The router box has been replaced with a plain Ubuntu Server box. My preference would be more Debian, or better yet, Gentoo, but Gentoo has no stable branch, and Debian is either bleeding edge or ancient with no happy medium. And I've had my time doing many revolutions per minute solving dependencies before the days of 'yum'.

    The liberation of not being hemmed in by what the web interface permits is wonderful. "Friendly" user interfaces are great, except when you want to achieve something that the interface doesn't permit.

    The Untangle box managed a heap of OpenVPN tunnels to remote sites — we had a desire to give one of the clients a static IP and route a subnet. No dice. We also wanted to suppress some routes from some clients. No can do. With plain Ubuntu now, we're in charge. Man must be master.

    As for the mail server, we had a need to add some mail routing in to pass a sub-domain to another box. The way to do this was to edit the template the web interface uses to generate the configuration file. Ugly, messy, problematic. This box's days are numbered as it also doesn't play nice with our LDAP infrastructure.

    As for Windows, I spend enough time arguing with Windows clients (XP and 7 mostly, sometimes 2000 or NT4, thankfully not 8), I don't care to pick fights with a Windows server if I can help it. At home I run an almost entirely Linux-based network.

    Windows Server will play a role somewhere, but not for critical infrastructure. If I am to depend on something, then fundamentally I must be able to get into its innards and understand how it ticks. To do otherwise leaves one just mindlessly searching for random error codes on the 'net when things go wrong, a very quick way to lose sanity and hair follicles.

  12. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    Sentiments acknowledged El Regio.

    I heard that the Mayans feel misquoted and merely observed that a seismic change will occur sometime about 2012.

    A shift of global change of a magnitude so great it more or less means an old(e) world(e) died(e) and a new world was borned.

    (I can't think what they mean and I am far too busy brushing up and studying my Mandarin Chinese (with a bit of Cantonese chucked in) to figure it all out.)

  13. Steven Raith
    Thumb Up

    Merry Christmas Trevor

    Always enjoy your articles, so here's a 'ta' in return.


    Steven R

    In cold North Yorkshire.


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